July 20, 2020 / 11:51 AM / 15 days ago

Japan's Shionogi targets annual vaccine output of 30 million

FILE PHOTO: Small bottles labeled with "Vaccine" stickers stand near a medical syringe in front of displayed "Coronavirus COVID-19" words in this illustration taken April 10, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese drugmaker Shionogi & Co aims to boost production capacity for its potential coronavirus vaccine to produce enough for 30 million people annually by the end of 2021, a company official told Reuters on Monday.

Amid an intensifying race to develop virus treatments, Shionogi aims to triple its domestic production capacity at its plant by adding equipment.

Shionogi plans to conduct all phases of production, including procurement of materials, in Japan, a company spokesman said on condition of anonymity, confirming a report by the Nikkei business daily.

While the government intends to procure coronavirus vaccines from overseas, boosting domestic production capacity will reduce the risk of being heavily reliant on imports.

Drugmakers around the world are scrambling to develop a treatment or vaccine for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the highly infectious new coronavirus, which has killed more than 604,000 people worldwide.

Japan has not suffered the explosive surge of coronavirus infections seen in some other countries. It has reported 1,000 deaths to date.

Japanese pharmaceutical firms developing coronavirus vaccines include Shionogi & Co and AnGes Inc.

The United States is planning massive clinical trials involving 100,000 to 150,000 volunteers in total, with the goal of delivering an effective vaccine by the end of this year.

Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; editing by Jason Neely

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